Monday, February 15, 2021

January Favorites: Zombies, Racists, and Gay Achilles

Syd and I read "Romeo and Juliet" this month. She had to read on a school-sponsored website with reading comprehension questions embedded in it (blech!), while I got to read from this second-hand Complete Works of Shakespeare with all the important parts already underlined for me and the relevant notes already written. 

January is always such an oddly busy month! You'd think it would be a respite from the chaos of Christmas, but I feel like January is always when Will's high school courses start ramping up in intensity for their final push, and then just when you realize you can now spend a weekend not doing any Christmas crap, Girl Scout cookie season starts! 

Will's also doing another class at our local university this semester, so the kid is swamped! Nevertheless, here are her favorites from what she read in her precious free time in January:

And here's the rest of what she read!

I got a little more reading time in, because I'm not prepping for AP exams or taking a college class, yay! A couple of non-fiction books that I've been in the hold queue for SUCH a long time waiting for both came in last month, so even though they were both heavy and depressing, I tackled them right away so that I could pass them on to the rest of the city:

The New Jim Crow has, and I am not exaggerating, changed my worldview. I definitely knew that there were flaws in the criminal justice system, and I of course knew that there was a lot of unfairness targeted explicitly at BIPOC individuals, but... wow. The criminal justice system is deeply, deliberately flawed, in ways so intrinsic that it's hard for me to wrap my head around what a solution could even possibly look like. It turns out that the criminal justice system is essentially just a really efficient method to continue denying civil rights and social services to BIPOC individuals by the simple method of getting as many as possible labeled as felons and then just denying civil rights and social services to felons. BIPOC individuals are policed far more heavily and given far harsher penalties than white people, and then additional legislation is piled on that does things like denying convicted felons the right to vote, or denying them subsidized housing or automatically barring them from the majority of jobs. 

And then there's the whole business with the War on Drugs, the propaganda for which has buoyed up all kinds of legislation to erode our 14th Amendment rights. I would like to keep ALL of my 14th Amendment rights, thank you very much!

And THEN there's the whole business of turning the prison system into a literal business, so that there is a literal, tangible incentive to jail as many people as possible as cheaply as possible. 

As I was reading, it occurred to me that the kinds of peaceful protests that made up the Civil Rights era would never work today. John Lewis and his fellow protestors knew that they'd be arrested for their sit-ins and marches, but they also knew that when they were, the town would have to pay to house them and feed them and in the meantime, more peaceful protestors would arrive who'd have to be arrested and housed and maintained, all on the town's dime. Eventually, the majority of the communities would have to release their protestors for lack of other options, and when that happened the only way to stop the protests would be to work with the protestors to make their requested changes.  

Now... well, you've seen as well as I have how the BLM protests have gone. The police have plenty of military-grade weaponry to beat the snot out of peaceful protestors, and they'd be just as happy as clams to lock everyone up indefinitely and earn scads of money while doing it. The only exception is if you're white, because in that case you can invade the nation's capitol and poop on the floor and try super hard to murder elected legislators and people will fall all over themselves to pretend like you're antifa in disguise instead of a terrorist.

The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland is a more niche title, because it's really only about the rise and fall of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana in the 1920s, but it really hit on my interest in the secret white supremacists who live among us. The stupid thing is that the Ku Klux Klan didn't even focus on racism in Indiana, because there weren't enough BIPOC individuals to get the white supremacists all riled up over; instead, they focused on CATHOLICS. And IMMIGRANTS. And, like, everyone joined! When they wanted to recruit in a town, first they'd put on their Klan robes and walk into all the Protestant churches in the middle of their sermons and hand them a bunch of cash. And then they'd have a giant festival with a parade, and some speechifying, and a big picnic dinner prepared by all those church ladies they'd just buttered up, and then a concert, and then when it was nice and dark they'd have a festive cross burning and sign up all their new recruits. And in advance of the 1924 elections, they mobilized to promote pro-Klan candidates for every local election, and then mobilized even more to get them elected. Like, two Klan women would drive to some homemaker's house, and one woman would stay there to babysit the kids while the other drove the housewife to go vote. That is MOBILIZED!

Fortunately-ish, it all went to hell starting in 1925 because it turns out that legislators elected entirely on a platform of hating Catholics and immigrants don't necessarily have any of the actual skill set required to govern, and the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, the guy who was the governor's right-hand man and everyone knew it... yeah, he was also a sex criminal and was directly responsible for the death of a woman he'd horrifically injured. So after his trial it wasn't so much cool anymore to be in the Klan.

The author makes very brief mention of our local scandal of the white supremacists vending at our farmer's market, and I would be so interested to read a further history that connects those two points in time, the early 1920s when apparently being in the Klan was the cool thing to do, and two years ago when it turned out that there were a bunch of people who still thought like that and had just kept their white robes hiding in the closet. I mean, did the Klan really die out, or did people just stop talking about it publicly?

Okay, here's what else I read in January that DIDN'T cause me to spiral into a deep despair about the state of the world (although not gonna lie: I cried at The Song of Achilles):

Here's what else made me cry: you guys, the hyperpop artist that I super like, SOPHIE, died! The artist was so young and talented and the music is so fun! This video is one of my all-time favorite music videos, full stop:

I've read a bunch more cool stuff already this month, and I already can't wait to give you my February update and wander on and on for fifteen paragraphs about the Trials of Apollo series that I just finished and that I now can't stop thinking about. Syd is right: I AM going to have to circle back around and start again with The Lightning Thief!

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